Thrift Store Shopping: The Smart Way to Get a New Spring Wardrobe
There are ways to save money and still have new, on-trend items. One of the best ways is to find them via thrifting. Thrifting allows you to find items you want for a price that is often much lower than retail, even brand new items that are still in the store. People discard items very quickly due to boredom, the fit or the bother of dealing with a store return.
Thrifting requires a little strategy and some planning. Some thrifters suggest making a list, some prefer to keep an open mind. There are some basics to consider before you start thrifting.
Some thrift stores are beautifully laid out and organized, some are not. Don't get frustrated when entering a store. Thrifting a good find takes time so give yourself enough time to go through the entire store.
You're not going to find what you're looking for but you might find something you didn't know you need yet is perfect. Also keep in mind that items can be altered, shortened or dyed.
Know Your Seasons (Then Shop Against Them)
Shopping for Spring is great but all the fall and winter items will be heavily marked down so they sell quickly. Now is the perfect time to stock up on clothing. Just store them away until needed.
Successful thrifters go often. Items are brought in weekly or even daily. Check your favourite stores on a regular basis because they'll mark items down 50 per cent or more. They get a lot of inventory and need to keep items moving fast. Learn the store's routine and score yourself a deal.
Look Beyond Your Neighbourhood
Thrift stores that are located in bigger towns and cities tend to picked over. If you're travelling, make sure to check out any thrift stores in the area. You might find a deal or two.
Jentine, of Myedit, has built her wardrobe from thrifting. This Canadian blogger (and professional landscaper) mixes her finds from local charity shops, Goodwill, Winners and even Joe Fresh. She shared some of her thrifting tips with Walletpop:
When did you start thrifting and why?
My family moved to Canada when I was 5 and my mom heard about Goodwill from some other frugal Dutch Canadian ladies. Back then we didn't call it thrifting, we called it 'going to Amity' and it was something that was often viewed as an embarrassment. Thankfully, I was pretty young and don't remember being ashamed about it. I almost always just thought my second hand clothes were pretty snappy.
How do you plan your trips?
My trips are not often planned; they can be very spur of the moment. My dad and I have made a tradition of going quite a bit but we mostly just check out the home goods. My most successful trips are when I am bored or sad and I go to the thrift store to sort out my feelings while perusing for second hand treasure. I do plan ahead to go to the 50 per cent off days however and I make an effort to go there super early to avoid the crowds and get the first picks.
When entering a store, what do you look for?
If it is a smaller thrift store, I usually give a quick browse through the whole store. Smaller thrift stores (mostly charity initiatives) may have less merchandise but often have lower prices.When I go to a larger thrift store, I run through my 'route' in order to keep myself organized. I start with jewelry, head to shoes and then to purses, dresses, skirts and blazers. These are my most successful areas so I spend the most time there before moving on.
How much should you budget?
The budget is entirely up to you. I admit I can easily spend $30 to $50 on a successful trip to the thrift store but I usually walk out with a giant bag full of crazy stuff. I am also a glutton for clothing so I am not a good standard to go by. I don't think you need to have a set budget (unless there is a definite number you shouldn't exceed), it's more about getting the best value for your dollar. If you buy a leather jacket for $20 at the thrift store that you are going to love for years, it is a much better deal than impulsively spending $20 on an H&M skirt.
At what price do you consider it not thrifty but just well-priced?
I could write a master's thesis on thrift store pricing but I shall try to keep it short. My biggest rule is that I won't spend double digits on anything from a mall brand (Old Navy, Gap, Dynamite). Because they are from recognizable brands, those pricing the merchandise at the thrift store tend to mark them up too high. If you are looking for mall brands, only buy them if they are super cheap or look through the final sales racks in the mall instead.
Deciding how much you are willing to pay at a thrift store is all about value. Value in terms of what your closet needs are, and value in terms of quality. I am always hunting for quality when I am at the thrift store. It is a chance for me to get an upgraded closet that I couldn't afford otherwise. Look for better fabrics such as naturals - silk, feather, wool, cotton - good construction techniques such as clean seams, linings. The inside of a garment should be as nice looking as the outside with nice details such as buttons, zippers, and embellishments. But you also need to think of what pieces are missing in your closet and how much wear you could get out of that piece. My rule of not spending double digits on a mall brand item may be a moot point for you, if you see a nice skirt from Mexx that you know you will wear to work all the time.
The biggest thing is just to be mindful. While thrifting can be a lot of fun, the prices at most thrift stores, especially the bigger stores, are creeping higher and higher. If you want to get the most out of thrifting you need to start paying attention to quality and wearability.
For a new thrifter, what do you recommend to prevent being overwhelmed?
If you are new to thrifting and have no idea where to start, head over to the accessories. Check out the jewelry, purses, belts, sunglasses and scarves. They are not overwhelming, like racks and racks of clothes can be, and are easy to sort through. If the idea of wearing second hand clothes is still something you need to get used to, then accessories are a good place to start. They are fun, often simple to clean and well-organized.
What have been your best finds?
There have been a lot of good finds over the years... A lot. My closet is a little insane. Some of my recent treasures include a cobalt blue cashmere Escada blazer and a grey Vince leather jacket. I will also always have a soft spot for unusual little vintage dresses. I know those are the dresses that my daughters/nieces are going to be grateful for one day. If I decide to share!